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How it will work

When the scheme goes live in 2023, people will pay a 20p deposit when they buy a drink in a single-use container.  

The following materials are included:

  • PET plastic bottles (like most fizzy drinks and water bottles)
  • Steel and aluminium cans
  • Glass bottles

All types of drinks in these containers will be included. All containers from at least 50 ml in size (whisky miniatures for example, are 50ml) to 3 litres (such as a beer keg) in size will be included.

Where to return

Consumers will get their deposit back when they return the empty bottle or can. The scheme has been designed to be as accessible as possible, whether you live in Stromness or Stranraer, with at least 17,000 return points nationwide.  

Across Scotland, wherever people can buy a drink in a container made from one of these materials, from the islands to our major cities, they will also be able to return it to reclaim the deposit. It will be just as easy to return an empty container as it was to buy the drink in the first place.

Hospitality businesses will also be required to collect containers for recycling, and if they’re selling drinks to go, they’ll charge the deposit too.

Community organisations will be able to get involved as collection points, providing further options for people to return their empty bottles and cans and get their 20p back.

How to return

There will be two main ways to return empty containers – over the counter, or by using a reverse vending machine (RVM). An RVM is a machine that scans containers when they are returned and then refunds your deposit. There will be a range of ways you can get your deposit back, for example cash at a till, a token or discount voucher, or digitally. The returned containers are stored in the machine and are then collected for recycling.

Online retailers will also be included in the scheme, ensuring it’s accessible to those dependent on online delivery. 

Running the scheme

The deposit return scheme will be managed by a scheme administrator, Circularity Scotland Ltd.

They will be required to capture at least 90% of scheme containers for recycling. 

The scheme will be paid for through three sources of funding: unredeemed deposits, revenue from the sale of materials and a producer fee.